Addressing the Second India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue in New Delhi on Wednesday, Ambassador Saran said this would help overcome India’s adverse balance of trade with Russia.
“As part of the trading environment, there have been talks about trade in national currencies. This again is still a work in progress and we need to see how we can operationalise and move forward on this idea, because increasingly we see many countries in the world are taking recourse to trading in their own respective currencies", said Ambassador Saran.
Ambassador Saran said the problem is not just the relatively low level of trade between India and Russia, but also the fact that India has an adverse balance of trade with Russia, which is growing.
India’s plans to acquire S400 air defence missile systems was hit by US financial sanctions and both countries are working on a solution regarding payment issues. This will also help Russia pitch for India’s upcoming defence contracts like submarines and fighter jets.
Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of India’s national think-tank, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) has suggested the possibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries. “It is a possibility, but we need to take it forward", he told Sputnik on the sidelines of the conference.
Russian Deputy Minister for Economic Development Timur Maksimov has suggested that today’s Roundtable should arrive at specific targets, which would then be considered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum and at the next Russian-Indian Annual Summit.
Moscow’s envoy to New Delhi Nikolay R. Kudashev felt it is important to overcome major impediments to bilateral trade. He suggested a solution for this problem might lie with the speedy operationalisation of the International North-South Transport Corridor, which would allow the infrastructure gap between our countries to be bridged.
The proposed International North-South Transport Corridor is designed to connect India to Russia, Western Europe, the Baltic States, and Scandinavia through the Persian Gulf. It would reduce transportation time by half.
“I am hopeful that through concerted efforts we will be able to present to our leaders promising ideas, aimed at matching our trade ties with the high-profile political dialogue", said Kudashev.
During the day-long Dialogue, both sides will discuss the development of transport infrastructure and technologies; agriculture and agro-processing sectors; small and medium business support; digital transformation and frontier technologies; trade, banking, finance and industry; and finally tourism and connectivity.
The India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue focuses on tapping the huge bilateral strategic engagement to achieve a trade target of $30 billion by 2025 set by Prime Minister Modi and President Putin. The current trade volume is close to $11 billion.